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A bridal shower is an opportunity for a bride’s loved one to help her stock her new household with the essentials she might need. It’s also a time for her to celebrate her happiness with the women she loves.
Years ago, the rules of etiquette were practically written in stone. Today, this is not the case. While the rules of etiquette can serve as a guide, the wisest course often is to follow your heart – inside, most of us know what the right thing to do. Let the following “rules” serve as suggestions when you are in doubt.
Hosting the Bridal Shower
The Maid of Honor usually throws the bridal shower. It doesn’t matter if she is a relative of the bride; it is perfectly acceptable for her to host the party anyway. If the Maid of Honor is unable to host for any reason, she and the bridesmaids, with the bride’s closest female relatives, should discuss and select an alternate host.
At one time, it was considered inappropriate for a close relative of the bride or groom to host the shower, but today this is sometimes the only practical option due to the geographic distribution of the bride’s friends.
In some cases, it makes sense to throw more than one bridal shower. In this case, each shower would have a different hostess. For example, one might be for the brides’ immediate family, perhaps hosted by her mother, an aunt or other relative. The Maid of Honor might host the shower for the brides’ friends and attendants. A close coworker or business associate could host a business-only bridal shower.
The Bridal Shower Guest List
All those invited to the shower should be on the wedding guest list. It is poor etiquette to invite someone to the shower and exclude her from the big day itself – more important, it’s just plain rude since she’ll be expected to bring a gift to the shower.
However, not every woman invited to the wedding needs to be invited to the bridal shower.
You should invite:
- Mothers of the bride and groom
- Grandmothers/great grandmothers of the bride and groom
- Female Cousins
- Bridesmaids/female attendants
- Close friends of the bride and her family
- Close female business associates of the bride
If a guest you’d like to invite lives too far to make attending the bridal shower practical, it is still good etiquette to send her an invitation anyway to let her know you were thinking of her.
Bridal Shower Invitations
Each person invited should be sent a separate invitation, even if they live in the same household. They should be mailed about a month before the shower and should include:
- Bride’s name
- Date of the bridal shower
- Time of the bridal shower (beginning and ending times)
- Address where the shower will be held
- Name and phone number of the hostess (and email address, if desired)
- Theme of the shower, if there is one
- Registry information (some people consider this in poor taste; if that is the case, the hostess and those closest to the bride should use word of mouth to inform guest of where the couple is registered)
- RSVP deadline (usually two weeks before the bridal shower)
- Map/directions to the bridal shower location, with the phone number there in case people get lost
Bridal Shower Greeting
Someone, often the hostess, should be designated to greet guests as they arrive – some people may not know many of the other guests, or even any of them. If the hostess doesn’t know most of the invited guests, she can “team greet” with a family member, business associate, or other guest who is likely to know the people that the hostess does not. Things the greeter(s) should tell guests as they arrive include:
- Where to put their coats/personal belongings
- Where to put their gift for the bride
- Where to get refreshments
- Where to sit, if applicable
It is also helpful to introduce guests who don’t know many people to others before the shower gets into full swing.
Bridal Shower Icebreakers & Games
Many bridal showers start with a bridal shower games or other icebreakers to help guests interact with each other and kick off the party mood. In addition to being a lot of laughs, bridal shower games are great ways to let your guests get to know each other and often learn more about the bride and groom. At the very least, everyone should introduce themselves by name and how they are related
to the bride.
Bridal Shower Thank You Notes
The hostess or another designated guest should be responsible for getting the names and addresses of each guest, and listing what each
guest gave as a bridal shower gift, so that the bride can write thank you notes. The thank you notes should be sent within a week of the bridal shower.
Joanna Cali is the publisher of the Westchester Wedding Guide, an online bridal guide that offers articles, advice and tips on planning a wedding. She also owns a web development and search engine optimization firm in Westchester County, NY https://www.calicosystems.com.